Following is a transcript of a press conference held this morning in the Talladega Superspeedway media center with Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Monte Carlo. KEVIN HARVICK: "Well, I think the first thing we need...
Following is a transcript of a press conference held this morning in the Talladega Superspeedway media center with Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
"Well, I think the first thing we need to do is go through the situation and clear up how everything happened and broke down. We're not going to go into 100 detailed questions. I heard a lot of speculation on things this week coming over the radio saying we're going to wreck somebody. That never happened. I pulled up alongside Coy Gibbs to see if we could go by, motioned, and that was it. And he came across the radio and said we're wrecking him. So that got all blown out of the water and that's enough said about that. I talked to a lot of people this week in our sport and a lot of people that have been here for a long time and I learned a lot of things this week about myself, who my friends are, and who my supporters are and who the people who don't support me are. Obviously, RCR got drug into the middle of something they really didn't need to be drug in and still got 230 people that support me and are standing behind me 100 percent. From the sponsors -- GM Goodwrench has been great to us; they're behind us. Everybody's behind us and I appreciate that and I think if somebody could have been put in my shoes and you're sitting there Sunday night wondering man what the hell's going to happen here and you go onto your website or the phone starts ringing, just a lot of support from a lot of different people. I appreciate all that. The fans have been behind us through thick and thin and we appreciate that. I need to thank Kenny Wallace for helping us through a sticky situation and putting him in a bad situation. A lot of the people that I talked to get to a crossroads in their career and most of the best drivers and best people in our sport had to cross something that takes them on a path you could go either right or left. You come to a fork in the road and you can either sit back and listen and try to understand how our sport works better or you can become stubborn-headed and not accept anything. I learned a lot this week. It sucks sitting at home watching a race on television that I knew that I was supposed to be a part of, knowing that we were supposed to have a racecar that could have won the race from happy hour the day before. That makes you think about a lot of things, and makes you realize a lot of things. The most important thing I learned through the whole situation is about myself and the people around me. There's a lot of people that say a lot of different things and some of them are saying them just to be saying them and some of them don't understand the situation and there's a lot of people around me that understand the situation. I think the best conversation I had this week was with Rusty Wallace. And that helped me understand a lot of different things. He'd been through al lot of the most of the situations that I'm going through and we're ready to race."
"I learned a lot about myself. If I could explain it to you, I would. There's a lot of different situations. This is not something that affected myself and Richard. This is something that affected myself, and Richard, my wife, and my fans and sponsors and there's so many veins that start to bleed out from this situation that there's a lot of different aspects of the sport that I didn't even know I affected. This has helped me understand and know where people are coming. There's a lot of conversations that I wouldn't have had if this didn't' happen. I'm not saying that this is a good situation, but I have learned a lot from it."
WILL IT CHANGE THE WAY YOU APPROACH RACING FROM THIS POINT ON? "That's one thing I have learned through this is I've got the same critics that I had when I was not saying anything, not doing anything, winning races. I had the same critics. When we get through all this I'll have the same critics that I had before. And that's just how it's going to be and you just have to accept it. I think I've also learned that I don't need to read a lot of the stuff that you guys write because some of it pisses me off and some of it makes me mad, but that's your guys' job and I respect that, just like you guys to have respect^Ê. .I like to race the race car. I don't care if it's a late model, I don't care if it's a street stock. I'm going to go out and race the car as hard as I'm going to race it and I don't know what I'm in. I just want to win the race and a lot of times that doesn't work anymore. This is Winston Cup racing and you have to step back and take a few deep breaths and realize what we're in and how important it is to a lot of people."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE A BETTER UNDERSTAND OF HOW NASCAR WORKS? "The most important lesson learned here is I wasn't seeing down the path they were looking down. And that is something^Ê that's a road that I have to be able to see down in order to succeed in this sport. We can win races, we can do a lot of things but unless I can walk up into that trailer, sit down in that office and have a normal, decent conversation with them, then I'm not going to get anywhere. And I think that lesson in understanding where NASCAR is coming from and understanding the things that they do is probably one of the top most important things that I've taken from the whole situation."
DO YOU THINK YOU WERE WRONG WITH ANYTHING YOU DID ON THE TRACK OR AFTER THE RACE LAST WEEK AND DO YOU THINK YOU DID ANYTHING YOU NEED TO APOLOGIZE TO NASCAR FOR OR ABOUT? "I don't really think that NASCAR wants an apology for anything. Three's a lot of different ways you can look at it. If the 20 truck wouldn't have spun me earlier and we got together in that certain situation would it have been an issue? I don't know. Parking in back of the trailer probably wasn't the most intelligent thing to do, but if you look like right across the pit lane there was my pit. So, I mean there's no excuses in the situation, they're just circumstances that happened. Saturday probably wasn't the circumstance that broke the straw on the camel's back, but I don't think that anybody expects or needs an apology. We've all been through a lot of things. You've been through a lot of things in your life. You've come to a certain instance and said man, I don't really know what to do here, or how to react or learn something, but the biggest thing is we learn from the situation and it's not something that there's a lot of different situations that we take in and compile and have to take forward with us and really understand."
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO TO REGAIN THE DRIVERS' RESPECT? "I was hoping somebody would ask this question. The top echelon of this sport has been the most supportive group, whether they come out and said it to you guys, but personally they have been there for me for advice, for things that have gone on, and most of them have been through the same situation. The ones that are voicing their opinion don't really hold that much stake in their voice for me to take in for credibility. The people that voice their opinion and came to my telephone, or came to my motor home or came for support are the ones that I need to listen to. The ones that have been champions in our sport, the ones that have won races in our sport. Most of them that are voicing their opinion are not worth wasting my time over."
ARE YOU CONCERED ABOUT OTHER DRIVERS WHO MIGHT HOLD A GRUDGE AGAINST YOU? "I think there's been a plateau set here. There's not going to be people that go out there and wreck somebody because there's obviously circumstances to pay. I think the point here is there's a consistent bar set here and I'm just here to race."
"We're here to race and win races and that's what we're going to do."
HOW DIFFICULT WILL IT BE TO KEEP YOUR EMOTIONS IN CHECK BECAUSE THAT'S NOT SOMETHING YOU CAN TURN ON AND OFF IN THE HEAT OF THE BATTLE? "You just do the best you can and go on with it."
ARE YOU FRUSTRATED AS TO HOW THE SEASON IS GOING? "I think that's another great thing that has come from this situation. Like I said, it's not a great situation by any means but our race team sat down and had a lot of time to talk to each other, understand each other, and that's something that we'd never really done before, without having a huge team meeting under^Ê that Richard called or Bobby Hutchinson called and that was something that we're all on the same page, we all understand where each other are coming from, we all understand how each other are feeling and we're a race team now. I feel a lot of the same things that I felt in the Busch team last year. There's people expressing their feelings to me. I'm expressing my feelings to them. When we get done we're all on the same page. And that's good."